- Austria! Yes, you should definitely come to Austria, I can show you around Graz and not only.
- Nooo, Italy! I think you should first go to Italy; we will have the best vacation ever in Milan. Then we can go together to Austria.
- Well, haven’t you said that you are 100% sure that you are coming to Czech Republic this summer? You said that you have already found the flight and information about visa….
Meet my friends from all over Europe: Helena from Austria, Blanca from Italy and Aleksandra from Czech Republic. Three of them are standing in front of me trying to convince me to go their country this summer. “We all live so close, why don’t we meet up somewhere in Europe?” one of my friends suggests and I am very excited about that! “Oh my god, that would be the most thrilling trip in my life”, I say to myself. Now that I have friends all over Europe it is much easier, because I definitely have a place to stay at and, what is more important, I have “guides” that know what is worth seeing and visiting.
“So what do you decide? Where do you want to come first?” Each of them is eager to be my host and they are already thinking what to do first when I come. Well, let me think for a while…. There is much more behind just my dream to travel all around the world.
Last year when I heard about the contest, the award for which was one year in an American University, I was very skeptic about it, as all Moldovans are . Yet I had always dreamt about travelling and I decided to try my faith. My faith was very generous to me treating me with one of the best experiences in my life. Now, that I am spending my academic year abroad, in a university in the US, it seems to me that world became smaller. All the boundaries are now “open” and there is my worldview itself changed a lot. During my year in America not only I travelled (finally my dream came true), but I also met wonderful people and best friends from different countries in Europe. Some years ago, I would not even dream about going or studying abroad. For me, a student from a developing country, it is not that easy to “get out” to the big world, sometimes it is even impossible. “Come on, you live in Moldova, it is situated in Europe!” one would say. Yes, I am a citizen of Moldova, which is in Europe. But does it mean that we can experience the main goal of the European Union – mobility?
Now that my year here comes to its end I feel very sad about saying good-bye to my friends from Austria, Italy and Czech Republic. It is a weird feeling – after flying all the way across the continents and oceans, Europe seems to be just a neighborhood. My friends are right: we all live so close to each other, and sometimes it would take just one hour flight to get see one of them. Yet, there are so many obstacles out there.
First of all, the principle of “mobility throughout Europe” does not apply to Moldova. We have to get a visa to go even to Romania, which is around 70 km from the town, where I live. It would not be that hard, if visas where given for free and without these ridiculous queues and waiting time at the embassies. We don’t even have all the embassies in Moldova! Just imagine the situation: to get the visa, you have to go to Romania. You also need visa to get to Romania. Isn’t this weird?
Second of all, for all the member of EU flight is so cheap, that even an average Moldovan could afford it. Again, for members of EU. If you want to fly from Moldova, you will have to pay triple price for the flight. My friend from Italy says, that she flew last year from Belgium to Italy for 12 Euros. Yet, if you want to fly from Moldova to London, the flight will cost you around 169 Euros. So are we really “mobile” in Moldova?
“Let me think for a while” I tell my friends. “I should count how much the trip to any of your countries would cost me”. Airfare: around 300 Euros for roundtrip, visa: 35 Euros plus 15 Euros for going to embassy in the capital city. Add to that some little expenses, and it is around 400 Euros for one week trip to ONE country in Europe. 400 Euros, when the average monthly salary in Moldova is around 100 Euros.
“You know what”, I finally say. “ I think you all should better come to visit me this summer in Moldova. The trip would not cost you much, moreover you don’t have to obtain visa for that. I am always happy to see you in my wonderful country and hope that someday I will be able to come to your countries. From Europe to Europe.”